50-year-old set for MMA fight in Minden
At age 50 and a prominent Douglas County rancher, David Park isn’t the most likely fighter you would expect to see on a professional fight card.
Just don’t discount him Saturday night during a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Muay Thai card at the Carson Valley Inn.
Twelve bouts, with a number of local area fighters showcased, have been lined up for the show at T.J.’s Corral Outdoor Concert & Events Center. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the first bout is scheduled to start at 8.
Justin Gragg is set to take on Cameron Church for the WFC 170-pound Muay Thai title. J.D. Adie of Minden and Carlos Sanchez of Reno will square off in a heavyweight MMA fight. Other matchups include Jack Montgomery of Carson City against Kevin Thompson of Reno in a 180-pound match, Alex Cich of Walker and Melvin Washington of Reno in a MMA 170-pound match, Lindsey Boston of Reno and Katie Dees of Sacramento in a women’s 125-pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match, a BJJ 135-pound match between Frankie DiMartino of Carson City (former standout wrestler at Carson High School) and Nico Lozada of Sacramento, as well as a BJJ 185-pound bout between J.D. Allbright of Minden and Vinny Valenzuela of Las Vegas.
And Park says he will be ready to rumble when he faces Skyler Souza of Auburn, Calif., in a 150-pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submission bout.
Park, descendant of a pioneering Nevada family who has long been involved with gaming at Lake Tahoe and ranching in Carson Valley, has been an athlete since his days at Douglas High School in the 1980s. So why a bout at this time?
“I suppose the short answer would be because I can and because it’s what I like to do,” Park said. “My opponent is in his early 30s, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
Park wrestled at Douglas — a three-time zone champion for the Tigers and state runner-up 128-pounder in 1985 — and later at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He was also inducted into the Douglas Football Hall of Fame last September.
More recently, he has competed at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments for West Coast Martial Arts in Gardnerville, including some gold medal performances. Now, ask West Coast Martial Arts-Gardnerville owner George Fujii if Park should be discounted because of his age Saturday night.
“No … he’s a beast,” Fujii said. “He’s ready to take on any comers. He goes toe-to-toe with all the young guys here. He’s just a very dedicated, hard-working and down to earth person.”
This isn’t what Park envisioned when he began watching his family train at West Coast.
“I started by watching, then I started to get into the fitness classes,” he said. “One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, they were asking if I wanted to do this fight. And I said, ‘Sure, I’ll give it a go.”
Park added his background on a wrestling mat helped him transition to martial arts competition.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has similarities to wrestling,” Park said. “That helped me adjust fairly easily.”
Park is one of three West Coast fighters scheduled to fight: 19-year-old Issac Lewis is set to appear in his first MMA bout and Cich, the studio’s main instructor, will come in with a 1-0 MMA record.
“If not for the support and teamwork at West Coast — and what they do for young kids and some old guys like me — I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said.
Of note … Matt McGovern, president of World Fighting Championships, said Gragg is fighting in memory of his teammate, Ryan Jones, an aspiring MMA fighter who was killed in a shooting last week in Reno. “Justin is fighting in his place and donating his ticket sales to pay for the funeral,” McGovern noted. … Visit wfcfights.com to purchase tickets.